Best Practice

ACTIVITY: Transport / Delivery COMPANY: Lafarge Tarmac
SUB ACTIVITY: Rail COMPANY LOCATION: Mountsorrel Quarry, Barrow Railhead
BEST PRACTICE No: BP890 COMPANY TEL: 07803 95 3658
Simple visual indicators to prevent slow speed shunting collisions on railhead

In 2011 and 2012, the 3M tonne per annum railhead at Barrow on Soar experienced 3 instances of very slow speed shunting collisions within the sidings, causing damage to wagons and infrastructure and disrupting the railhead operations. The accidents were either caused by parked wagon sets ‘partially fouling’ points so that wagon sets on adjacent lines could not pass without touching, or were due to over shunting wagon sets into the stop blocks.

A review noted that there were no visual markers to show whether the parked sets were sufficiently clear of the points to allow safe passage. Operators were using their judgement and experience to ‘visually assess’ whether there was sufficient clearance. The solution was to mark back from the stop blocks and points the clearance distance by painting the track sleepers in red – creating a clear visual marker – without creating a trip hazard. The method of working was adjusted so the shunting was undertaken at normal speed until the last three wagons and then slow speed until beyond the markers.

A further collision highlighted the need to improve procedures on the setting of points. Traditionally, ground staff would visually check the point lever and move it to the correct location. However, the standard hand pull lever is accessible for others to move in error. The new procedure is that any movement of wagon sets is authorised through the Person In Charge within the control cabin. They note the correct setting for the track points and only they can authorise the point lever to be moved and set in place. To communicate to others working in the sidings that points should not be operated or moved, a simple indicator plate has been made which fits over the point lever. It is bright yellow and states DO NOT PULL.


• The likelihood of slow speed shunting collisions greatly reduced.
• No further collisions to date and method of working has improved
• Involving the workforce in the review resulted in more ownership of safety
• Very cost effective and visual solutions that can easily be applied elsewhere
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